The first Nauhaus has been designed and construction will begin in May of this year. We call it a prototype because it’s the first project in which we are combining all aspects of the Nauhaus vision: the highest possible level of energy efficiency, low-embodied energy non-toxic (“natural”) materials, impeccable indoor air quality, sustainable water management, indoor and outdoor living, urban infill, on-site energy production, and an abundant edible landscape brought together to create a model of urban sustainability. In addition, this project will provide valuable data for others in the green building movement because we will performance monitor the home for several years to compare theoretical to actual performance.
The house has been designed to Passive House certification standards and, if certification is reached, will be one of the first ten such buildings in the US. This means it will use 90% less energy to heat and cool and 70% less energy overall compared to its conventional counterparts.
High performance buildings often rely heavily on complex products that create pollution and release toxins both in their manufacture and often after installation. Our innovation is to achieve the highest performance levels with a focus on site harvested, local, and non-toxic materials. Examples on this project are site-made compressed earth blocks, local wood and stone, salvaged materials where appropriate, and non-toxic finishes manufactured locally with local materials. A combination of air tight construction, breathable walls using Tradical® Hemcrete®, furnace-free heating, energy recovery ventilation, and natural, non-toxic interior finishes produce simply the best indoor air quality you’ll ever experience.
The house and landscape are designed not to require external water inputs. This is accomplished through rainwater harvesting off the roof and through a landscape designed to capture and hold surface water. Water leaving the house, so-called “wastewater”, will be used to water plants instead of being added to the municipal sewage burden, a process called greywater irrigation. (Note: due to code restraints, the house will have a well and sewage hook-up, however these systems will be used as little as possible as allowed by law. If and when these laws are revised, our urban homestead will be capable of providing all required domestic water on site and won’t produce any “waste water” requiring municipal treatment.)
The house is designed to encourage more time spent outdoors by creating ample transitions between indoor rooms and beautiful, useful outdoor spaces which in turn transition to an abundant edible landscape and natural habitat.
The building site has existing drainage problems, including a broken storm water pipe, so building here will be an act of repair. The lot is situated in a an older suburban neighborhood that is near a growing commercial and retail center, so dependence on car travel will be reduced. A pedestrian greenway connects by way of a footbridge over a creek to a neighboring “urban village”.
By drastically reducing energy demand through good design, renewable energy systems to bring the homestead to carbon neutrality are made much more affordable. Solar thermal for hot water and space heating and a 5.5KW photovoltaic system have been fully integrated into the design.
Though daily eating is a human habit, edible plants and domesticated animals are a rarity in combination with modern housing. We call this project an urban homestead because it includes an abundant edible landscape including fruits, vegetables, herbs, as well as a variety of plants placed for shade, beauty, and habitat. A small green house and chicken coop are also included. All of these elements are planned using permaculture principles to create a thriving, productive ecosystem just steps from the refrigerator and kitchen table within the borders of a typical city lot.
The elephant in the room in the movement to create more efficient buildings is the essentially unknown correlation between theory and practice. Energy modeling, lab testing, and other stalwarts of energy efficient design are essentially theoretical. We need a lot more data comparing theoretical to actual performance. For this reason, we’re very excited to be able to performance monitor our prototype building while occupied by a typical family over an extended period. Data and analysis will be made public in reports and articles we’ll undertake as part of our continuing research.
For specific details on the features of the project, peruse the plans and other links below and click on the different sections of the project rendering at the top right of this page. For more information on the concepts behind this prototype, meander through this website.
If you’re interested in sponsoring this prototype project, please visit our Donation page.